To be a Liberal today is to be in many ways concretely concerned with equality, justice, and fairness. There are several main tenets of Liberalism—for instance, most Liberals would agree that government spending is normally a good thing—each nested within a desire to extend democratic rights, economic justice, and so on. These are normally positive things.
The Democratic Party, the champion of these causes, was always my party. Ever since I understood what they and conservatives stood for, I’ve always identified as a liberal. And growing up I consistently thought and was taught that both sides try to work together. Even in the foreign nations of my parents, politics and policymaking were different animals: politics was a show, but policymaking saw both sides putting their differences aside and working together. Morally good, extensive, and real work was passed through each house of Congress.
But how wrong I’ve been. Some of the change, I admit, is attributable to things like “the media,” social media platforms, and politicians. But in no way does this account for everything. We the people are primarily at fault.
These days, my fantasy is of parties and people who act as we ought to. I dream of liberals who recognize that fighting privilege, racial inequality, and other like behavior do not equate to tearing down others; I dream of conservatives who listen a little better and reflect a little more. I hope for people on both sides of the aisle who recognize that the other is not an enemy, but an adversary—a person whose value is not defined by the ideas they hold. In these reveries, neither side claims moral superiority: both are aware of the problems of their side, and are open and willing to be pragmatic. Most of all, I hope that, though free speech remains paramount, conversation and debate remain civil and forward-minded. Only then can consensus—and good governance, effective policy, and so on—can be reached and developed.
I am in many ways the son of a son of socialism. I know many conservatives, some of whom are just as racist as the left would like to paint all of them; most aren’t. Neither side is always right—but what is right is working as one. America is one big team, no matter what colors you wear.